Bulldog breeding can be a very rewarding and emotional experience.
It can also be very scary. There is much risk vs. reward with bulldog breeding.
You own an English Bulldog, and would like to breed them. You may have found this page searching "How to Breed English Bulldogs." Before you make this decision, please read this article about bulldog breeding.
I am going to open this topic by saying that I am not trying to discourage anyone from breeding English bulldogs. What I would like to do, is educate you before you put your female at risk. This process is difficult and must be taken seriously. Make sure you know the facts about breeding before you even make the choice. This is very important, because if you do not have the time, the money, or the resources you could be seriously putting the life of your beloved bully in danger!
Many people "invest" in English Bulldogs because they think they will get rich breeding them. They see the price of the English bulldog and all they see is dollar signs. Sorry, but I have bad news for you. You will not get rich off of breeding bulldogs. Far cry from it. Unless you breed like a puppy mill operation and try to 'cut costs' in exchange for the health of your puppies and your bulldogs, you will NOT get rich doing this.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You will NOT get rich off of bulldog breeding,
unless you are compromising the health of your dogs and puppies. Unless you have a puppy mill,
or large kennel where dogs are only used for breeding purposes and do not have loving homes.
Many people breed their female because they want to keep a puppy from the litter. Keep on reading, because the expenses and time it takes to raise a litter can definitely outweigh the costs of just purchasing another puppy from a good breeder.
This is never a good reason to breed an English Bulldog!
Good breeders will breed to protect the breed--and produce healthy happy puppies for future loving families. Most breeders of English Bulldogs do not make a large sum of money and hold down regular jobs. Once you consider the costs, the time invested, and the knowledge it could actually break down to just pennies an hour!
RISK vs. REWARD
The minimum investment is around $2500, depending on who you use for stud, what your vet charges, supplies you need, ect. So if you have only 1-2 puppies in your litter, you can see you would not even make very much at all. My investment for my litter of 2 puppies was $4000+, so you can see if I would have sold both for $2000 each I would not have made a dime. Or perhaps you go through the expense of stud service, vet visits and x-rays, only to find out your bulldog did not get pregnant. This happens a lot too!
Next time, maybe you will have more than two, but you never know. As Forest Gump says, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." Same applies to a breeding!
Before you begin, you should have your female health screened by your vet to make sure she does not have any defects that she could pass down to her litter. If you have a good bulldog vet, they should know what to look for and what tests can be run to ensure a healthy litter.
Next, you will need to select a good healthy stud for your bitch. You should ask for their AKC number so you can register with American Kennel Club - akc.org and look up his health screen. You do this by registering, logging in, and then you will need to click "manage dogs". Once you are there, click "add a dog". You can type in the AKC number of the male you plan to stud with, and add him as a "dog of interest". Once you do, you will be able to see if he has been screened and what tests he has had done. If the stud has not had screening, I would suggest you find a different stud. The stud owner will most likely charge at least $500, and depending on his line it could be MUCH more. This is generally for 3 artificial inseminations.
It takes a lot of effort for this puppy to be brought into the world, starting with artificial insemination.
That's right. ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION! Bulldogs do not breed naturally, they need AI's. If you try to breed an English bulldog the "natural way", you could put both of the dog's lives in danger. This is for many reasons, but most important is that English bulldogs can overheat easily, thus the process of "nature" can actually cause them to faint, become dehydrated, or WORSE. The stud service will most likely recommend progesterone testing. This will give the most accurate date the female ovulated. You may have to get two progesterone tests to get the right date. Each test runs approximately $100. Make sure she has received her vaccinations at least a couple of weeks prior to breeding her. Make sure she is on a good quality food that is full of good vitamins and minerals.
Pregnant female bulldog at 51 days gestation, this female only had 4 puppies
Finding the right vet is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! During the next 5 weeks, your female may not seem much different than before. You will probably think she is not even pregnant! The first sign is that her nipples will start to swell and the hair surrounding the nipple will start to fall out or become thinner. Once she is 6 weeks along, you will want to start increasing her calorie intake. The best way to do this is to gradually change her over to an excellent puppy food during week 5. Just mix a little more into her food per day until she is completely off her regular food starting week 6. Adding NuVet Plus or another supplement to her diet will also improve her health. Pregnancy for any dog is approximately 63 days, but English Bulldogs can whelp their pups earlier.
English bulldogs should have c-sections. They also need special anesthesia compared to many other breeds. No matter what you do, you are putting your bitch at risk by putting her under anesthesia. This is why it is so important to fully educate yourself, because even the most experienced breeders can lose their female due to complications in pregnancy or delivery.
There are English Bulldogs who can naturally whelp litters, but this usually occurs by accident! This is due to several factors, like the fact that English bulldogs are prone to have water puppies (also known as walrus puppies). They cannot push them through the birth canal, and the puppy could get stuck there, which will require an emergency c-section, and at this point anything can go wrong. Also, because of their large heads and body width, this also makes it very difficult on the mother to do natural labor. Exhaustion is a huge problem, if she has more than just a few pups. You should never try to let your bulldog whelp their litter naturally unless you are at a vet who has taken all the precautions to start an emergency c-section.
C-sections pose less of a risk for the mother, and the litter, but you MUST choose the right veterinarian to perform this task! I cannot even stress the importance of finding a veterinarian who has experience with the delivery, complications, and c-section of English Bulldogs.
Do you have the TIME for a bulldog litter?
The main decision maker: You will need to invest a serious amount of time. If you work full time or even part time for that matter, you probably will not have the time available that it takes to raise the litter. Once the puppies are born you will be taking on the role of the dam's maid.
Finally! The day has come. You have taken your bulldogs temperature every four hours in the last week of her pregnancy. A good indicator (but not always the key indicator) of labor is for her temperature to drop 2 degrees or more than what is her regular temperature. The regular temperature should be around 101 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. You rush her to the vet, and now you have a beautiful litter of English bulldog puppies. Now your work has just begun, dam's maid!
If everything went perfectly and as planned it is time to bring home your new grandchildren. Unfortunately for many, this is not the case. Many bulldog moms do not take anesthesia well, and they lose their life on the surgery table. This is a tragedy, because you will only blame yourself for ever getting her pregnant. You must be willing to accept this as a possibility, and is another reason to seek out the BEST BULLDOG VET! Not just any vet will do. Ask how many ENGLISH BULLDOG c-sections they have done, success rates, loss of mothers, ect. *IF* something happens to the mother, you will have to be mom. You must be prepared for the worst- just in case. There are many other risks as well, including pups who are born with cleft pallet, water (walrus) puppies, intestines growing outside instead of inside of the body, and more. Discuss these possibilities with your vet, and find out what their procedures are.
For the first ten days you will be putting the puppies on the mother to nurse. DO NOT EVER LEAVE your dog unattended when she is nursing her puppies. Our bullies are clumsy, tired and just had a c-section so they are unfortunately not the best moms at first. They just woke up from a deep, deep sleep and now these little things are crawling all over her! The dam could easily step on or roll on a puppy and suffocate it, or even worse-kill it. You must put them on the dam EVERY TWO HOURS for the first ten days. That's right! Every two hours! Hopefully you have someone to help you and take a "shift", because if you don't, you will be running tired and it becomes hard with the lack of sleep. If you miss a feeding or forget to set your alarm clock, your puppies will fade and possibly die. You will need a scale to weigh them. I personally weigh them before and after each feeding, to make sure they got something while they were on mom.
Make sure they are eating or gaining weight. They could aspirate liquid into their lungs very easily, causing a URI and die. Make sure you have an emergency plan with a mobile vet or emergency vet if needed.
After they are done nursing mom, you must stimulate each puppy to use the bathroom. This may sound difficult, but it really is not. You can use a warm wet washcloth or cotton balls, and you rub their genital area back and forth gently until they defecate. Put a smudge of Vaseline on their bum and around their tail to help prevent dried stool blocking their anal passage, and make it easy for you to clean off if that is the case. You must do this after every nursing.
You must keep a clean environment for your puppies. They are prone to bacterial infections, fading puppy syndrome, parvo and other puppy diseases. Wash your hands thoroughly before handling them, and keep everyone OUT of their area! You should have a good whelping box, heating pad and a good heat lamp to keep your puppies warm. They cannot regulate their body temperature, so you want their area to stay between 84-89 degrees F. You will constantly need to monitor their areas temperature to make sure you are maintaining a warm environment for your puppies.
These are just some of the medical supplies you want on hand, especially just in case you have to feed the pups and mom cannot nurse them:
- -Rubber Gloves
- -Cotton Balls
- -Sanitzed cloths
- -Syringes & needles
- -Feeding tubes
- -Milk Replacer
- -First Aid Kit
- -Antibiotic ointment
- -Karo Syrup
- -Skin cleanser (antibacterial for mom bully)
- -Antibacterial soap for yourself
- -Puppy scale
You should also stock yourself with plenty of supplies. Cotton balls, vaccinations, towels, rags, alcohol, disinfectant, peroxide, Vaseline, rugs, gloves, syringes, needles, dewormer, ect. The more things you can get at your disposal, the better. If you administer your own vaccinations you will protect your pups from animal diseases at the vet's hospital. Remember, their immune system is really low, so if they come in contact with anything they will get it. Better to keep them at home and give the vaccinations until they are protected! You can get vaccinations online for really good prices, and save yourself at least 75% compared to taking your pups to the vet. But not everything always turns out perfect, and you could have a pup who requires vet care. This can really add up!
And don't forget about mom!!! She will need extra calories while she is nursing. You will have to increase her daily intake by at least 3, so if she normally eats two meals a day you will want to give her 6. To entice her to eat, you will need some yummy canned dog food. Top it with some powdered milk, yogurt, canned pumpkin, cottage cheese, as she will need many additional calories. MMMMM DELICIOUS! This will make her milk good and if you see she is losing weight too quickly, she is not eating enough.
While your puppies grow, they will start to develop stronger immune systems. You will start to wean them off of their mom around 3-4 weeks of age. You will now need to make puppy mush to get them used to eating solids. You want to make sure you are feeding them really good mush to ensure they continue to build strong immune systems. Soaking some good quality puppy food, adding some real fresh veggies like carrots or canned pumpkin, a bit of yogurt- put it all into a blender for the days mush. Mush gets very messy, as they do not understand how to eat from a bowl just yet. You will need to clean them off with a warm cloth after eating ensuring that they are dry when returning them to their box. Make sure you clean up the mush mess. You will probably be doing 2 loads of laundry a day between the feces and mush, and will be changing the bedding 3-4 times a day.
Now it gets really fun, for the next 3-6 weeks you will now have little pooping and peeing machines, whose favorite thing to do is go potty right after you give them fresh bedding. They will also fight and play for most of the day, and until you find them good homes they are going to be your responsiblity to care for everyday. This is not easy at all, so make sure you are prepared. You do not want your pups laying in feces as much as possible so you will need to continuously monitor them and clean up their messes and change their bedding. You may be lucky enough to have a bulldog mom who will do much of this for you, but you still need to change the bedding as much as needed.
Now it is time to find potential homes for your puppies. Make sure you tell buyers about English Bulldogs, daily wrinkle care, bum wipes, yeast problems, possible health issues, allergies, and having some disposible income for vet costs. Make sure you tell them the importance of staying on good dog food and do not switch to a cheap food.
You should also keep in contact with your puppy buyers, and check in with them often. Help with any concerns or questions, and you can always tell them about English Bulldog News Forums to seek answers to questions they may have.
Here is a basic analysis of costs to raise an English bulldog puppy litter (USA Dollars):
- Health screen & blood tests: $400-$800
- Stud fee: $500-$1000
- Progesterone test: $100-$200
- Additional dog food for duration of pregnancy/nursing: $100
- Whelping box, heat lamp, heat pad: $100-$400
- Prenatal care, vet visits, x-rays: $500
- C-section: $800-$1700 (without complications)
- Vaccinations, safeguard, de-wormer, supplies: $150
(If you don't vaccinate and de-worm yourself, add about $500 in vet costs)
- Vet examination to determine healthy pup prior to selling: $25- $50 per pup
- Microchips: $20 to $80 each
(Depending on whether you do it yourself or have your vet do it)
- Advertising to sell your litter: $100
- Your hourly rate: pennies per hour
So all in all, bulldog breeding is something you would need to seriously think about. Your desire to do it should be simply for the love and to better the breed. You must be prepared to invest money with absolutely no return. And much preparation and education is needed prior to attempting!
In the end, with so many bulldogs in rescue who do not have homes, is bulldog breeding really for you? Are you doing it for the right reasons? Is it worth the risk? These are questions you should ask yourself prior to taking the plunge.
Finally, to close this article I would love for you to read our "Breeding DOs and DON'Ts"
Contributors to this article: Desert Sky Bulldogs, Michelle N., EB Rescue Organizations